Min Maxing
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Basic Information

Min-Maxing is the practice of designing a character so that it has the greatest effectiveness (typically, effectiveness in combat) achievable under the circumstances. Techniques include minimizing the impact of negative traits, taking many irrelevant negative traits if this allows for more power elsewhere, picking only the most effective character options and seeking out overpowered combinations and magic items. This tends to make for stinky roleplaying as the player has focused entirely on effective traits rather than the personality of the character - the game is reduced to combat, "non-combat challenges" and "wasted time" … which can be very annoying for non-gamists.

Min-Maxing can be done in any rpg. It is especially straightforward in point cost games such as HERO or GURPS, where the player buys attributes and powers for his character out of a pool of points, but other games such as D&D are far from immune.

In some circumstances - especially where it appears to be baked into the expected style of play - this behaviour may also be known as "optimization", implying that it is a logical extension of character design … which from a gamist perspective, it is.


2. d20 Character Optimization - Wizards Community A subforum dedicated to min-maxing in 3rd edition D&D (and other d20 games). See the FAQ thread for more explanation and a positive view of Character Optimization.

Game and Story Use

  • Actually, there's really nothing wrong with Min-Maxing; but Min-Maxers can become annoying if they're too obsessive about it.
    • The real problem with Min-Maxing comes when 1 or 2 players are doing it, but the rest of the group isn't.
      • That can lead to a big disparity in the power (or at least effectiveness) between the PCs, which can have a negative impact on the fun that most of the group is having.
      • When this happens, the ones who are doing the "offending" are generally the ones who's enjoyment is enhanced (as their more potent character, always the one who saves the day, serves as an ego boost).
      • Those who weren't looking for loop-holes in the system are the ones who later sit around feeling useless while the ubercharacter steals the spotlight again and again. This encourages them to Min-Max in their next game, too avoid that happening again. This can then become a cycle that eventually makes people too obsessive about it.
      • When Min-maxing is allowed to become "optimization" then those players who create characters with "non-optimal" builds are liable to be derided for creating a "nerfed" character.
  • And Min-Maxing is sometimes a symptom of Munchkins.
  • Min-maxing can be a sign that the GM is focusing too much on one type of play - usually combat - a rounded balance of combat, problem solving and roleplay in a campaign can help to reduce the temptation towards overspecialisation for players. Also, a more varied campaign can help stop some of the flaws the min-maxer took from being 'free points'.
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